“Physician heal thyself.”
This quote from the King James Bible, Luke 4:23, refers to the readiness and ability of physicians to heal sickness in others while sometimes not being able or willing to heal themselves. It also implies that physicians, when sick, are no better off than the rest of us.
I have had some time to contemplate my current situation with regards to my back injury. Fortunately, I have not had any acute episodes in a couple of weeks! Yay!!! I have also had the opportunity to work through most of the stages of grief and have come to a “now what” stage of my journey.
Drawing on the wisdom of yoga, Ayurveda and that potent phrase from the Bible, I have remembered that I have the knowledge and power to heal myself.
So here is what my healing journey looks like right now:
- I’ve improved my attitude: “ I can deal with this! I don’t feel as defeated. In order to heal, I have to want to heal and feeling both safe and empowered is vital.
- I’m getting enough sleep. When we sleep, we give our muscles and soft tissues the time to heal and scar tissue time to form. I need scar tissue in my lower back to help it stabilize.
- I’m eating well. I am focused on maintaining a nutrient-rich diet. I have increased my intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and I’m paying better attention to selecting healthy grains and proteins. A well-nourished body will have the tools it need to heal faster and better.
- I’m staying hydrated and paying closer attention to my thirst. In the past I have tended to ignore it. Not any more!
- I’m getting lots of fresh air and sunshine. Being in nature helps to nourish my mind. I need to look after all of me, not just my back. This is a whole-being problem and needs a whole-being solution! This is an important principle in Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga.
- I’m working on the alignment of my body. This is a big one. I have been exploring what postural habits I have that may have contributed to my injury and may continue to aggravate my back. Structural alignment influences range of motion, pain levels and my body’s ability to heal.
- I’m sitting less and I’m sitting up straight. This is also a big deal. Much has been written lately about sitting and disease. Our bodies adapt to how we use them and sitting for hours at a time sets us up for all kinds of problems, including back issues. When I sit, I make sure that I have a tall spine. I also make sure that I get up regularly. See point on hydration!
- And the biggest one, I’m Moving by Body as much as possible!!! Motion is lotion! Here’s what that looks like.
I’m walking daily if possible and at least three times a week if I’m over-scheduled, which happens a lot with me, because I like to be busy. 😉 On my 5km walks, I make sure I wear minimalist running shoes and I focus on HOW I’m walking. I make sure my feet are pointed forward and I push off with my big toe with my “pushing” leg far enough back that I activate my hamstrings and glutes. I want a stronger butt and core!
Weak buttock muscles often cause back pain because the curve in the low back increases and low back muscles have to take over much of the postural work the butt muscles would normally do. Many of us also use the low back rather than legs to move, stand, squat, lunge, sit or do any other potentially back-harming activity. This tidbit of information definitely speaks to me!
In addition to walking, I am giving my feet some extra love (June is Foot Awareness Month for all my yoga classes), squatting more, doing lunges and a selection of yoga standing poses like Warriors 1 and 2. I’m also using my head-stander to turn my spine upside down and activate my postural muscles from a different orientation. And – in case my physiotherapist is reading this – I’m also getting in some planks and chaturangas with mindful alignment!
The biggest thing that has improved my outlook is getting back to regular activity. I have returned to my yoga mat and I had my first post-injury outdoor bike ride last Friday. It was a short ride (25km) without any hill climbs. My back was a bit sore and â€¦ it was glorious!
Let the healing journey continue.